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Phoenix Technologies Ltd. v. VMware, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 10, 2017

PHOENIX TECHNOLOGIES LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
VMWARE, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE PARTIES' ADMINISTRATIVE MOTIONS TO FILE UNDER SEAL Re: Dkt. Nos. 181, 182, 230, 247, 279, 280

          HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM JR, United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court are several administrative motions to file various documents under seal pursuant to Civil Local Rule 79-5, relating to Plaintiff Phoenix Technologies' (“Plaintiff) and Defendant VMware, Inc.'s (“Defendant”) motions in limine (“MIL”) and charging conference statements. See Dkt. Nos. 181, 182, 230, 247, 279, 280. No oppositions to the motions were filed. Having carefully considered each of the requested redactions, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the administrative motions to seal.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Courts generally apply a “compelling reasons” standard when considering motions to seal documents. Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass 'n, 605 F.3d 665, 677-78 (9th Cir. 2010). “This standard derives from the common law right ‘to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.'” Id. (quoting Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)). “[A] strong presumption in favor of access is the starting point.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). To overcome this strong presumption, the moving party must “articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure, such as the public interest in understanding the judicial process.” Id. at 1178-79 (citations, internal quotation marks, and alterations omitted). “In general, compelling reasons sufficient to outweigh the public's interest in disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes, such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. at 1179 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The court must “balance the competing interests of the public and the party who seeks to keep certain judicial records secret. After considering these interests, if the court decides to seal certain judicial records, it must base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.” Id. (citations, brackets, and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Civil Local Rule 79-5 supplements the “compelling reasons” standard. The party seeking to file under seal must “establish[ ] that the document, or portions thereof, are privileged, protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law. . . . The request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material . . . .” Civ. L.R. 79-5(b).

         Finally, records attached to motions that are only “tangentially related to the merits of a case” are not subject to the strong presumption of access. Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1101 (9th Cir. 2016). Accordingly, parties moving to seal such records must meet the lower “good cause” standard of Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Id. at 1097. The “good cause” standard requires a “particularized showing” that “specific prejudice or harm will result” if the information is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210-11 (9th Cir. 2002) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Fed. R Civ. P. 26(c).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Here, the Court applies the “compelling reasons” standard because the documents at issue have more than a tangential relation to the merits of the case. See Ctr. for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1099 (stating that “plenty of technically non-dispositive motions-including routine motions in limine-are strongly correlative to the merits of a case.”). The Court rules as follows:

Motion

Document

Ruling

Reason

181

Plaintiff's MIL No. 2

GRANTED

Confidential Business Agreement.

181

Plaintiff's MIL No. 3

DENIED as to 2:21; 3:10-12; 3:21-22; 3:27; 4:1;

No Declaration in Support

181

Declaration of Whitty Somvichian in Support of Plaintiff's MIL (“Somvichian Decl.”), Exhibit 4

GRANTED as to 93:17-95:11

Confidential Business Agreement.

181

Somvichian Decl., Exhibit 5

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

181

Somvichian Decl., Exhibit 6

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

181

Somvichian Decl., Exhibit 7

GRANTED

Confidential Business Information.

181

Somvichian Decl., Exhibit 8

GRANTED as to 111:12, 111:18-113:21; 127:15

Confidential Business Information.

181

Somvichian Decl., Exhibit 11

GRANTED

Confidential Business Agreement.

181

Somvichian Decl., Exhibit 12

GRANTED

Confidential Business Information.

181

Somvichian Decl., Exhibit 14

DENIED as to 2:1-28 DENIED as to rest of Exhibit

No Declaration in Support

182

Defendant's MIL #1

DENIED as to 3:7-9; 3:15-17; 3:21-22; 3:27; 4:25; 4:25-26

No Declaration in Support.

182

Defendant's MIL #2

GRANTED as to 1:19; 2:24-28

No Declaration in Support

182

Defendant's MIL #3

GRANTED as to 1:20; 1:21; 1:22

Confidential Business Information.

182

Defendant's MIL #4

GRANTED as to 1:8; 1:9; 1:10; 2:23; 2:24

Confidential Business Information.

182

Defendant's MIL #5

GRANTED as to 1:12; 1:13; 2:13; 2:15

Confidential Business Information.

182

Declaration of Michael A. Jacobs in Support of Defendant's MIL # 1-5 (“Jacobs Decl.”), Exhibit 2

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 3

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 4

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 5

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 7

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 9

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 10

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 13

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 16

GRANTED

Confidential Business Information.

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 17

GRANTED

Confidential Business Information.

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 18

GRANTED

Confidential Business Information.

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 21

GRANTED as to 409:1-15, 409:22-410:1, 410:5-15, 410:24-411:4, 411:12-18, 411:23-412:3, 412:6, 413:14

Confidential Business Information.

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 22

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

182

Jacobs Decl., Exhibit 23

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

230

Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's MIL No. 2

GRANTED as to 1:2-3; 1:22-24; 2:4; 3:3; 3:4-5; 3:7; 3:10-11; 3:28-4:4; 4:13; 4:27; and 5:1

Confidential Business Information.

230

Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's MIL No. 4

DENIED as to 1:4-6; 1:7-9

No Declaration in Support

230

Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's MIL No. 5

DENIED as to 1:8-12; 1:14-15

No Declaration in Support

230

Declaration of Michael A. Jacobs in Opposition to

Plaintiff's MIL Nos. 1-5 (“Jacobs Decl. in Opposition”), Exhibit 12

GRANTED as to 333:20-335:6

Confidential Business Information.

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 13

GRANTED

Confidential Business Agreement.

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 14

GRANTED as to 227:11-229:2

Confidential Business Information.

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 15

GRANTED

Confidential Business Agreement.

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 18

GRANTED

Confidential Business Agreement.

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 21

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 22

DENIED as to 50:1-51:25

No Declaration in Support

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 25

GRANTED

Proprietary Third Party Information.

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 26

DENIED as to 44:1-48:25

No Declaration in Support

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 30

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 36

DENIED as to 45:1-48:25

No Declaration in Support

230

Jacobs Decl. in Opposition, Exhibit 38

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

247

Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's MIL No. 5

GRANTED as to 5:6-7; 5:n.3; 5:n.5

Confidential Commercial Information.

247

Declaration of Whitty Somvichian in Support of Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's MIL Nos. 1-5, Exhibit 77

DENIED

No Declaration in Support.

279

Trial Exhibit 163

DENIED

No Declaration in Support

280

VMware's Charging Conference Statement

DENIED as to 8:10 8:13-16

No Declaration in Support

280

Gonzalez Exhibit 1

DENIED as to 122:7 122:17-18 123:3 123:6 123:8 124:2

No Declaration in Support

         III. CONCLUSION

         While Civil Local Rule 79-5(f)(3) typically requires the parties to file all required revised redacted versions within 7 days, in the interest of receiving all revised documents in advance of the April 17, 2017 charging conference, the parties are ORDERED to file all revised documents by 5:00 p.m. on April 12, 2017. In addition, while VMware attorney Krystia Przepiorski provided a specific reason for sealing Exhibits 19 and 20 to the Declaration of Michael A. Jacobs in Opposition to Plaintiffs MIL Nos. 1-5, see Dkt. No. 230-2, such a request was not included in the motion to seal itself, see Dkt. No. 230. The Court will thus allow VMware the opportunity to file such a request by 5:00 p.m. on April 12, 2017, if it chooses to do so.

         IT ...


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